London Marathon weekend has to be on one of my favourite weekends of the year. There is nothing more uplifting and inspiring than seeing thousands of everyday people pounding the pavements of London with only one goal… getting to that finish line.
The marathon shows London at its best especially when you have a day like we did on Sunday with glorious blue skies and the sun streaming down. Hundreds of thousands of people line the streets to cheer you on whether they know you or not in the hope that it’ll spur you on to achieving your target.
I’m proud to say I completed the London Marathon back in 2008 , which also happened to be the centenary year of the marathon. It’s funny to think back how I ended up on the start line considering I really didn’t like running at all.
My sister and I were lying in the garden sunbathing and had got onto the topic of running the marathon. It’s always one of those things that you watch on the TV and say “next year I’m going to do that”. And for some reason we made a ‘pinky promise’ (yes we are that sad!) to do the marathon the following year. And everyone knows you can’t break a pinky promise.
And that was it… we were committed!
So we set about getting ourselves a place and both started training. At the time neither of us were keen runners. I was quite happy to go to the gym and Emily was playing hockey at Loughborough University, but going out ‘just for a run’ really wasn’t something either of us enjoyed. But there is no getting away from it, if you want to get round the course, you have to put in the miles across the miserable winter season and get your legs used to the relentless miles coming your way.
On the day, I remember getting into our respective sections at the start line, my sister nearer the front and I was unfortunately right at the back just in front of all the fancy dress runners and as it happened the rhino was just behind me (you must have seen the rhino before on TV). Based on our training times and where we were lined up to start the marathon we thought there might be a chance I might eventually catch up with Emily towards the latter half of the marathon and we were right.
At about mile 18 when the heavens opened up for the second time that morning I spotted Emily just up ahead. As I slowly caught up with her I looked at her and could see her muttering “I hate the bl**dy rain!” and I slapped her on the bottom to give her a kick up the backside and said ‘I’m here with you now, we’ll finish this thing together!” And that’s exactly what we did.
We ran side by side for the final 8 miles, both enjoying the run a whole lot more than we had for the previous 18, just because we were there next to each other. We both knew how much it was hurting our legs but I think it hurt just a little bit less doing it together.
We finished the race, hands held high together as we passed through the finish line with big smiles on our faces knowing we’d done it. We’d completed the London Marathon. And in my case, never to be done again! The box was ticked, that was enough for me.
We had the funniest time trying to get our tracksuit bottoms on at the end as neither of us could bend our legs to get our feet into the trousers and kept falling over in fits of giggles. However, when we finally got to the area where all the supporters are waiting for you it was just amazing to see how proud our family and other halves were. It just made every Sunday morning lost to the pavements totally worthwhile.
I remember my husband trying desperately to get me to eat something on the train home from the marathon but your hunger just disappears until a few hours later when I demanded Domino’s had to be bought!
With it being the London marathon today, it couldn’t help but conjure up memories of that day and I felt it was only appropriate to make homemade pizzas for dinner on Sunday evening in honor of that Domino’s pizza devoured in record time.
However, this time I thought I’d try moving away from the traditional tomato base and instead experiment with a sour cream, goats cheese and mint pizza sauce.
I can totally see why this sort of sauce compliments the lamb so beautifully that you don’t need or want a tomato sauce on this type of pizza. The base was beautifully thin and crisp and the lamb was succulent and tender. The mint cut through the creamy goat’s cheese and the pistachios added a bit of crunch. I was worried the pomegranate molasses might overpower the pizza with its sweetness but really it just added an additional flavor that only highlighted all the other flavours on the pizza and tied it all nicely together.
For a crisp summers evening, this really is a simple but elegant pizza delivering big on flavour.
Lamb and minted goat’s cheese pizza with aubergine, pomegranate and pistachio
Inspired by What Katie Ate with a small twist of a pizza base rather than flat bread
(Makes 2 good size pizzas)
For the pizza base:
250g pizza (oo) flour
Small pinch salt
35ml olive oil
1.25 tsp instant dried yeast
125ml cold water
For the pizza sauce:
150g soft goat’s cheese
250ml sour cream
Leaves from 3-4 stalks fresh mint, finely chopped
Juice ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
For the pizza:
250g fillet lamb sirloin
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
sea salt & freshly gorund black pepper
Olive oil for frying
Handful of pistachios
Roughly chopped mint leaves
2-3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
To make the pizza dough
Sift flour into a large mixing bowl or kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook on.
Make a well in the centre and add the remaining ingredients.
Whisk them together with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour, or let your dough hook do the work.
Bring the mixture together using your hands to form a dough and then transfer to a well-floured area.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes making sure that you stretch the dough as you go.
Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a clean damp tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.
To make the pizza sauce
Add all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together well. You can use a stick blender or food processor to do this if you prefer. Set the bowl aside ready for later .
To make the pizza
Place a baking tray or a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to its highest temperature. If you do this about 45 mins to an hour before you want to bake your pizza . Your tray will then be ready for the pizza and will ensure you get a more even bake and a nice crispy base. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees before you’re ready to put your pizzas in.
Cut your aubergine into thin round slices and drizzle with olive oil and season well.
Heat a griddle pan and when piping hot, griddle your aubergine turning over after a couple of minutes, so that you get nice griddle marks on both sides. Set aside.
Lay your lamb out and coat all sides with the Dijon mustard and season well.
Heat a non-stick frying pan, add a tablespoon of oil and set your gas at a medium heat. Add the lamb searing it on all sides for about a minute so that it is a golden brown colour.
Remove the meat and leave to rest for about 20 minutes before cutting it into as thin slices as you can manage.
Lightly flour your worktop and turn the dough out onto it before cutting in half. Lay out some baking parchment and roll your dough out on it into a round pizza shape or if you’re finding that difficult any shape really will do as long as it fits on your baking tray. (Rolling it out on baking paper will make it easier to transfer to the baking tray).
Spread half the pizza sauce onto the dough, followed by half of the aubergine and lamb slices. Repeat with the second pizza. If you would like to crumble on extra goats cheese, then be my guest. We did as we had a bit left over (and we’re a bit greedy).
Transfer to the baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes when the crust should look crispy.
Remove from the oven and serve with a scattering of pistachios, fresh mint leaves and a generous drizzle of pomegranate molasses.